Exploring Community Philosophy as a tool for parental engagement in a primary school

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In this paper, I will reflect on the initial reconnaissance, action, and reflection cycle of my doctoral research, exploring Community Philosophy as a tool for critical parental engagement in a primary school (Elliot, 1991). I will examine how I reflexively engaged with my influence on participants, which then significantly influenced the framing of, and the planning for, the second action research cycle.

The challenges that the initial stages of my research have presented will be considered using Herr and Anderson’s five components of validity (Herr and Anderson, 2014). I then use the four Chronotopes of Research developed by Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2005) to discuss the implications for my understanding of positioning, authenticity and transformation, and the resultant reframing of my research.

In order to set the context for my research, I begin by giving a brief overview of my own interest in ‘democratic voice’. This is followed by an exploration of the current ‘closing the gap’ discourse in English education (OFSTED, 2013; Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, 2014; Wilshaw, 2013), to demonstrate how parental engagement has become individualised, lacks democratic voice, and often valorises middle class parents. Hence I will argue that there is a need for a more democratic and collective model of parental engagement, and make a case for justifying Community Philosophy as a possible model.

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